Does Paul think like Paul? (Ron, Apostle)

There’s an interesting NY Times article from this past weekend that declares Europeans can’t afford their cradle to grave safety net.  Declining birth rates, longer lifespan, and the migration of manufacturing to the developing world are all contributors to the problem. Change is needed, and it will be a hard pill to swallow.  I hope we learn from this as a nation.  Conservatives and Liberals both need to find some political will to make the kind of hard choices, and I hope we can all agree on this:  We’ve got to stop living beyond our means.

The changes in Europe, though, will come through raising the retirement age and cutting some benefits.  Don’t expect Europe to lose its socialist bent anytime soon.  As the former German Foreign Minister declares:  “It’s a matter of national security, of our democracy.” (referring to the socially equalizing nature of the education and health care entitlements that mark European culture).  The Minister’s point is that political stability has come about in Europe via the accessibility of education and health care for all people, contributing to a large middle class.

That Obama is trying to emulate this philosophy through expanding the role of government in our lives is the great fear of conservatives.  Their case seems based in Romans 13, where Paul declares that the purpose of the government is simple, and limited:  it exists in order to keep people safe by punishing evil doers.  (Romans 13:1-7) This passage says nothing about providing health care for everyone, unemployment benefits, or for that matter, social security, or medi-care.  This passage is sometimes interpreted as meaning that the provision of infrastructure, police, and an army, ought to be enough.  Government?  The smaller the better.

I understand the view, but is that really what Paul is saying?  While I don’t know the answer, I do know that CS Lewis said something like, “the worst crimes are committed by people in suits and ties” (can anyone help me find the exact quote).   Who is the evildoer? The guy who breaks into my house and steals my stuff?  Of course.  But is the evildoer also the one who knowingly sells tainted beef, or the company who drops health coverage to a sick person on a technicality after years of receiving their faithful premium payments, or the company who creates and sells derivative swaps, walking away with billions precisely because the markets went under?  Are these not crimes as well? What does “punish the evil doer” mean in these cases?  I fear that the Ron Paulists would argue that the market will take of these things, that if I die from eating poisoned beef, my family will tell people not to buy at that restaurant anymore, and the market will offer punishment enough.  Do you agree?  I don’t.  I’m happy to know that someone is checking to see that eating establishments use clean plates, and keep their hot food hot, and their cold food cold.  I’m glad that there are regulations that pilots fly sober, and that no single company can buy out all competitors and control an entire industry, or that nuclear power plants can’t dump their waste in rivers.  These things require government, and their role is Romans 13ish:  punish the evil doers.

Regarding entitlements, I’ll only add that when God ran the government (or tried to anyway), provision was made for the poor, and the year of Jubiliee pretty much assured that there’d always be a middle class, because of God’s wealth redistribution program that would make any socialist blush.  Should Christians be encouraging their governments along these lines as well, or only along the lines of Romans 13?

I’m trying to limit my posts these days to the subject of sustainable faith, but I continue to believe that  a mature faith is related to our capacity to critique, as citizens of the kingdom, both the political right and left, as we try and help each other work for the good of places where we live.  Towards that end, discussion of the merits and liabilities of various views can be valuable, not as a means of inciting fanaticism, but of increasing understanding.  I welcome your thoughts.

About Richard Dahlstrom

As Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Richard teaches with vision of "making the invisible God visible" by calling people to acts of service and blessing. It's working, as a wilderness ministry, homeless shelter, and community meals that serve those living on the margins are all pieces of Bethany's life. "We're being the presence of Christ" he says, "and inviting everyone to join the adventure." Many have, making Bethany one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 according to Outreach Magazine.

  • sp

    In C.S. Lewis’ book Reflections on the Psalms, he is quoted as saying

    “Of all bad men, religious bad men are the worst.”
    -C.S. Lewis

    Was that the quote you were looking for?

    I love that quote…

  • sp

    In C.S. Lewis’ book Reflections on the Psalms, he is quoted as saying

    “Of all bad men, religious bad men are the worst.”
    -C.S. Lewis

    Was that the quote you were looking for?

    I love that quote…

  • raincitypastor

    I love that quote too, but it wasn’t the exact one I was looking for. Religious bad men ARE the worst, and that thought terrifies me sometimes.

  • raincitypastor

    I love that quote too, but it wasn’t the exact one I was looking for. Religious bad men ARE the worst, and that thought terrifies me sometimes.

  • http://brokentelegraph.wordpress.com Ian, for The Broken Telegraph

    Two pervasive political mindsets are troubling, because they also thrive in the christian church. The first is party loyalty, and becoming enamored with the competition, or the story arc of individual politicians; the other is complete detachment, and ignoring the moral and immoral implications of political policy. That’s why I like your article and the tension in your moderating thoughts.

    Building on the quote about religious bad men, there was a great one on a Frontline episode awhile back about the “showdown with Iran” (i sure do wish our media would stop with the wrestling lingo when discussing important world affairs, as if everything has to be a brawl). anyway one of the Iranian reform candidates from awhile back said something close to “Bush and Ahmadinejad both believe they are taking orders from God. They’ve left the ground a little bit. And that is very dangerous for the rest of us.” Well said, and it applies to all of us- as people of faith, it is so tempting for us to annoint our actions as holy, and so dangerous when our default mode is “us vs. them” plus “we’re right/they’re wrong.” scary indeed.

    My wife, daughter and I are new to Bethany having recently left another Seattle-area church. My wife and I have been incredibly challenged and encouraged by your two most recent sermons (not that previous ones weren’t any good, but we just weren’t there yet to hear them), and our daughter was excited to find 10 other girls in her first-grade range :). We thank the Lord for the clarity and focus we’ve received from your sermons as we continue through the most difficult season of our lives.

    ian
    http://www.brokentelegraph.com
    http://www.twitter.com/brokentelegraph

  • http://brokentelegraph.wordpress.com Ian, for The Broken Telegraph

    Two pervasive political mindsets are troubling, because they also thrive in the christian church. The first is party loyalty, and becoming enamored with the competition, or the story arc of individual politicians; the other is complete detachment, and ignoring the moral and immoral implications of political policy. That’s why I like your article and the tension in your moderating thoughts.

    Building on the quote about religious bad men, there was a great one on a Frontline episode awhile back about the “showdown with Iran” (i sure do wish our media would stop with the wrestling lingo when discussing important world affairs, as if everything has to be a brawl). anyway one of the Iranian reform candidates from awhile back said something close to “Bush and Ahmadinejad both believe they are taking orders from God. They’ve left the ground a little bit. And that is very dangerous for the rest of us.” Well said, and it applies to all of us- as people of faith, it is so tempting for us to annoint our actions as holy, and so dangerous when our default mode is “us vs. them” plus “we’re right/they’re wrong.” scary indeed.

    My wife, daughter and I are new to Bethany having recently left another Seattle-area church. My wife and I have been incredibly challenged and encouraged by your two most recent sermons (not that previous ones weren’t any good, but we just weren’t there yet to hear them), and our daughter was excited to find 10 other girls in her first-grade range :). We thank the Lord for the clarity and focus we’ve received from your sermons as we continue through the most difficult season of our lives.

    ian
    http://www.brokentelegraph.com
    http://www.twitter.com/brokentelegraph

  • Ken

    I believe a key point of separation lies in our trust (or distrust) in modern government. There is certainly a clear need for good governance, but I fear we have strayed so far off that course that we stand at a precipice of our own making. The very government that was supposed to protect now has become a behemoth serving mostly itself and those we have elected. It becomes self serving because the numbers within the bureaucracy and dependent upon the “free” handouts of that bureaucracy are now such a powerful voting block it is becoming self sustaining. The elected official gives generous benefits and retirement packages to the government union workers to gain their votes to perpetuate their personal power position and round and round we go. The example of God’s nation is a powerful one, but how does that apply to an increasingly ungodly example in our own? I would like to believe “We the people” are unique in all man’s history and will govern as God ordained, but instead I see a nation “dashing its children on the rocks” as it were. The man currently at the top of this power struggle is arguably the strongest abortion proponent ever to serve as president. In the midst of a major economic crisis he is living a life of indulgence that makes a mockery of the struggling populace. In fact leaders from both sides are seemingly so out of touch with the common man that listening to any of their blathering is maddening. It’s all for one and all for them. Freedom comes at a great price and it would appear that for our own nation and much of the Western world the bill is finally coming due. What was built on a foundation of hard work and struggle is now seen as an entitlement for the generations that did the work. I don’t honestly know how we undue this mess, but history tells us clearly that the more faith we put in man’s government over our lives, the further we stray from a need for God. I am really coming to believe life is so very difficult for us precisely because that’s God’s plan to draw us to Himself.

  • Ken

    I believe a key point of separation lies in our trust (or distrust) in modern government. There is certainly a clear need for good governance, but I fear we have strayed so far off that course that we stand at a precipice of our own making. The very government that was supposed to protect now has become a behemoth serving mostly itself and those we have elected. It becomes self serving because the numbers within the bureaucracy and dependent upon the “free” handouts of that bureaucracy are now such a powerful voting block it is becoming self sustaining. The elected official gives generous benefits and retirement packages to the government union workers to gain their votes to perpetuate their personal power position and round and round we go. The example of God’s nation is a powerful one, but how does that apply to an increasingly ungodly example in our own? I would like to believe “We the people” are unique in all man’s history and will govern as God ordained, but instead I see a nation “dashing its children on the rocks” as it were. The man currently at the top of this power struggle is arguably the strongest abortion proponent ever to serve as president. In the midst of a major economic crisis he is living a life of indulgence that makes a mockery of the struggling populace. In fact leaders from both sides are seemingly so out of touch with the common man that listening to any of their blathering is maddening. It’s all for one and all for them. Freedom comes at a great price and it would appear that for our own nation and much of the Western world the bill is finally coming due. What was built on a foundation of hard work and struggle is now seen as an entitlement for the generations that did the work. I don’t honestly know how we undue this mess, but history tells us clearly that the more faith we put in man’s government over our lives, the further we stray from a need for God. I am really coming to believe life is so very difficult for us precisely because that’s God’s plan to draw us to Himself.

  • Tim Gammell

    You write, “expanding the role of government in our lives is the great fear of conservatives …” A slightly different take from a conservative believer is that good governance has its own responsibilities – and the SEC, and apparently the Minerals Management Agency both leave much to desire. (See article below). Your discussion of what are the sins of omission regarding what should be governed is worth having, but so should addressing a bloated, unresponsive government. Even the article below intertwines cronyism and simple dereliction of duties – neither is going to be solved by a larger government presence.

    IG report: Meth, porn use by drilling agency staff
    By MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press Writer Matthew Daly, Associated Press Writer 5/25/10

    WASHINGTON – Staff members at an agency that oversees offshore drilling [ http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_gulf_oil_spill_washington# ]accepted tickets to sports events, lunches and other gifts from oil and gas companies and used government computers to view pornography, according to an Interior Department report alleging a culture of cronyism between regulators and the industry.

    In at least one case, an inspector for the Minerals Management Service admitted using crystal methamphetamine and said he might have been under the influence of the drug the next day at work, according to the report by the acting inspector general of the Interior Department.

    The report cites a variety of violations of federal regulations and ethics rules at the agency’s Louisiana office. Previous [ http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_gulf_oil_spill_washington# ]inspector general investigations have focused on inappropriate behavior by the royalty-collection staff in the agency’s Denver office.

    The report adds to the climate of frustration and criticism facing the Obama administration in the monthlong oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, although it covers actions before the spill. Millions of gallons of oil are gushing into the Gulf, endangering wildlife and the livelihoods of fishermen, as scrutiny intensifies on a lax regulatory climate.

    The report began as a routine investigation, the acting inspector general, Mary Kendall, said in a cover letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, whose department includes the agency.

    “Unfortunately, given the events of April 20 of this year, this report had become anything but routine, and I feel compelled to release it now,” she wrote.

    Her biggest concern is the ease with which minerals [ http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_gulf_oil_spill_washington# ]agency employees move between industry and government, Kendall said. While no specifics were included in the report, “we discovered that the individuals involved in the fraternizing and gift exchange — both government and industry — have often known one another since childhood,” Kendall said.

    Their relationships took precedence over their jobs, Kendall said.

    The report follows a 2008 report by then-Inspector General Earl Devaney that decried a “culture of ethical failure” and conflicts of interest at the minerals agency.

    Salazar called the latest report “deeply disturbing” and said it highlights the need for changes he has proposed, including a plan to abolish the minerals agency and replace it with three new entities….

    • raincitypastor

      I completely agree – my musings aren’t intended to exalt either party, but rather move towards clarity regarding the ideal. Both parties are missing the mark – by an enormous margin.

  • Tim Gammell

    You write, “expanding the role of government in our lives is the great fear of conservatives …” A slightly different take from a conservative believer is that good governance has its own responsibilities – and the SEC, and apparently the Minerals Management Agency both leave much to desire. (See article below). Your discussion of what are the sins of omission regarding what should be governed is worth having, but so should addressing a bloated, unresponsive government. Even the article below intertwines cronyism and simple dereliction of duties – neither is going to be solved by a larger government presence.

    IG report: Meth, porn use by drilling agency staff
    By MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press Writer Matthew Daly, Associated Press Writer 5/25/10

    WASHINGTON – Staff members at an agency that oversees offshore drilling [ http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_gulf_oil_spill_washington# ]accepted tickets to sports events, lunches and other gifts from oil and gas companies and used government computers to view pornography, according to an Interior Department report alleging a culture of cronyism between regulators and the industry.

    In at least one case, an inspector for the Minerals Management Service admitted using crystal methamphetamine and said he might have been under the influence of the drug the next day at work, according to the report by the acting inspector general of the Interior Department.

    The report cites a variety of violations of federal regulations and ethics rules at the agency’s Louisiana office. Previous [ http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_gulf_oil_spill_washington# ]inspector general investigations have focused on inappropriate behavior by the royalty-collection staff in the agency’s Denver office.

    The report adds to the climate of frustration and criticism facing the Obama administration in the monthlong oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, although it covers actions before the spill. Millions of gallons of oil are gushing into the Gulf, endangering wildlife and the livelihoods of fishermen, as scrutiny intensifies on a lax regulatory climate.

    The report began as a routine investigation, the acting inspector general, Mary Kendall, said in a cover letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, whose department includes the agency.

    “Unfortunately, given the events of April 20 of this year, this report had become anything but routine, and I feel compelled to release it now,” she wrote.

    Her biggest concern is the ease with which minerals [ http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_gulf_oil_spill_washington# ]agency employees move between industry and government, Kendall said. While no specifics were included in the report, “we discovered that the individuals involved in the fraternizing and gift exchange — both government and industry — have often known one another since childhood,” Kendall said.

    Their relationships took precedence over their jobs, Kendall said.

    The report follows a 2008 report by then-Inspector General Earl Devaney that decried a “culture of ethical failure” and conflicts of interest at the minerals agency.

    Salazar called the latest report “deeply disturbing” and said it highlights the need for changes he has proposed, including a plan to abolish the minerals agency and replace it with three new entities….

    • raincitypastor

      I completely agree – my musings aren’t intended to exalt either party, but rather move towards clarity regarding the ideal. Both parties are missing the mark – by an enormous margin.

  • Chris Damman

    Maybe this is the quote you’re looking:

    “The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not even done in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the offices of a thoroughly nasty business concern.” (Preface to The Screw Tape Letters, C. S. Lewis)

    One fundamental question to consider in this discussion is whether we can delegate powers to government that we don’t necessarily have as individuals. While the justice system and military are a ‘delegated’ personal right to bear arms and protect our property, life, and liberty; what personal right does the welfare state correspond to? One might, as a devil’s advocate, argue that it is a Robin Hood scheme, and allows stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Do we as individuals have a right to do this? As a physician, I personally believe strongly in the welfare state including health care as a right. I am curious to know how people reconcile this incongruence in personal and governmental rights?

    In regard to government’s role in the capitalist financial system, Adam Smith’s own conception of the “invisible hand” was only meant to be taken so far. He recognized that the market can and often does break down as we have witnessed with market failures like monopolies, environmental costs, economic bubbles, lack of accountability in corporate accounting, and more… Do some of these pitfalls self correct? Maybe not all of them, and at what cost as well as over what amount of time? I don’t propose to know too much about political economics, but it seems clear to me that government must play a role in avoiding or at least dampening these inevitable capitalist pitfalls. The question then is how big of a role, and I suspect it is a dynamic balance that is always sought but never achieved.

    NPR had a humorous but informative “rap” on Keynsian vs. Hyakian economics. I think it captures the concept of a dynamic balance quite well and is certainly pertinent to more than just economic policy. Here’s the link… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0nERTFo-Sk

    Do we need more government or less government…. To borrow the words of our esteemed pastor, “Yes.”

  • Chris Damman

    Maybe this is the quote you’re looking:

    “The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not even done in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the offices of a thoroughly nasty business concern.” (Preface to The Screw Tape Letters, C. S. Lewis)

    One fundamental question to consider in this discussion is whether we can delegate powers to government that we don’t necessarily have as individuals. While the justice system and military are a ‘delegated’ personal right to bear arms and protect our property, life, and liberty; what personal right does the welfare state correspond to? One might, as a devil’s advocate, argue that it is a Robin Hood scheme, and allows stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Do we as individuals have a right to do this? As a physician, I personally believe strongly in the welfare state including health care as a right. I am curious to know how people reconcile this incongruence in personal and governmental rights?

    In regard to government’s role in the capitalist financial system, Adam Smith’s own conception of the “invisible hand” was only meant to be taken so far. He recognized that the market can and often does break down as we have witnessed with market failures like monopolies, environmental costs, economic bubbles, lack of accountability in corporate accounting, and more… Do some of these pitfalls self correct? Maybe not all of them, and at what cost as well as over what amount of time? I don’t propose to know too much about political economics, but it seems clear to me that government must play a role in avoiding or at least dampening these inevitable capitalist pitfalls. The question then is how big of a role, and I suspect it is a dynamic balance that is always sought but never achieved.

    NPR had a humorous but informative “rap” on Keynsian vs. Hyakian economics. I think it captures the concept of a dynamic balance quite well and is certainly pertinent to more than just economic policy. Here’s the link… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0nERTFo-Sk

    Do we need more government or less government…. To borrow the words of our esteemed pastor, “Yes.”

  • raincitypastor

    You’ve found the exact quote I was looking for… thanks much for that, and the words – yes. yes.

  • Ken

    As usual Lewis has hit it right on or spot on I should say. Notice though that he equates both the police state and nasty business concerns. The great divide between the two that we often choose to forget or at least overlook is that we rarely need or must buy what the business is selling, but the state has the power of force to decide for us what we need and now for our nation what we must buy. A shady financial product promising unrealistic returns plays to our personal greed. A product that does harm to the environment has no profit value if customers do the right thing and don’t buy it. But the state making decisions for the whole by a standard decided by those suits in the clean offices of power… that’s a VERY unbalanced playing field.

  • Ken

    As usual Lewis has hit it right on or spot on I should say. Notice though that he equates both the police state and nasty business concerns. The great divide between the two that we often choose to forget or at least overlook is that we rarely need or must buy what the business is selling, but the state has the power of force to decide for us what we need and now for our nation what we must buy. A shady financial product promising unrealistic returns plays to our personal greed. A product that does harm to the environment has no profit value if customers do the right thing and don’t buy it. But the state making decisions for the whole by a standard decided by those suits in the clean offices of power… that’s a VERY unbalanced playing field.

  • Linda

    Government role according to the Bible is wield the sword, which means to punish evil doers, which acts as a deterrent to social disorder. When government starts playing God (socialism and communism) they become evil because they exceed their Godly purpose.

    Humans are sinful, therefore government will always be sinful and corrupt, only God is perfect, in fact He is beautiful….

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQ3lvN4tQmY&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

  • Linda

    Socialism goes against the Ten Commandments, it breaks the first commandment “you shall have no other gods before Me” because it makes itself to be a god to the people. Socialism breaks the commandment “thou shall not steal”, because it takes from the wealthy and gives to the less wealthy, it breaks the commandment “thou shall not covet” because it encourage people to covet other people’s wealth. Socialism is a very ungodly form of government, it is wicked. The Ten Commandments are not just for individuals but it also applies to government, if any government promotes the breaking of the Ten Commandments it is bad.

    • Geoff

      Linda, this is a straw man argument. ANY “-ism” can break these commandments – and they do! Capitalism can be a ‘god’ as easily as socialism. Our current economic crisis should make that abundantly clear. All economic systems are flawed, and people end up stealing from each other, and coveting each others wealth. There has always been a great deal of Ten-Commandment-breaking in America (and everywhere else!), no matter who is in charge of our nation.

  • Linda

    Socialism goes against the Ten Commandments, it breaks the first commandment “you shall have no other gods before Me” because it makes itself to be a god to the people. Socialism breaks the commandment “thou shall not steal”, because it takes from the wealthy and gives to the less wealthy, it breaks the commandment “thou shall not covet” because it encourage people to covet other people’s wealth. Socialism is a very ungodly form of government, it is wicked. The Ten Commandments are not just for individuals but it also applies to government, if any government promotes the breaking of the Ten Commandments it is bad.

  • Ken

    I see less of a straw man argument than a Humpty Dumpty argument at his stage of the game. Me-ism is the great evil of our time just as it has been throughout history. The issue now is we have such a divided, fragmented, complicated world in such a multitude of ways. Rich-poor, techno advanced-primitive, religious-secular, black-white-brown-yellow, left-right, it goes on forever. As believers what should be our main focus? My fear in all the arguing of what’s wrong in the world and how can we fix the system is that we may be missing our calling to be apart from this world. My fear in how can we get government and business to take care of people is we’re asking the wrong question. They never will. How can we take care of people as God asks us to? Instead of looking to pass that calling to someone or everyone else (the old, “Why do I have to do it if he doesn’t?”) we should be focused on how we can fulfill God’s purpose for His people even though the world tries to stop us. If we think more government intervention will help God’s purposes on Earth we’ve missed the mark already. I ask that we have the freedom to do God’s will and show Him to the world instead of trying to make all the world do His will. That has never worked and we’re fooling only ourselves when we think the right laws by the right people will finally accomplish God’s work.

  • Ken

    I see less of a straw man argument than a Humpty Dumpty argument at his stage of the game. Me-ism is the great evil of our time just as it has been throughout history. The issue now is we have such a divided, fragmented, complicated world in such a multitude of ways. Rich-poor, techno advanced-primitive, religious-secular, black-white-brown-yellow, left-right, it goes on forever. As believers what should be our main focus? My fear in all the arguing of what’s wrong in the world and how can we fix the system is that we may be missing our calling to be apart from this world. My fear in how can we get government and business to take care of people is we’re asking the wrong question. They never will. How can we take care of people as God asks us to? Instead of looking to pass that calling to someone or everyone else (the old, “Why do I have to do it if he doesn’t?”) we should be focused on how we can fulfill God’s purpose for His people even though the world tries to stop us. If we think more government intervention will help God’s purposes on Earth we’ve missed the mark already. I ask that we have the freedom to do God’s will and show Him to the world instead of trying to make all the world do His will. That has never worked and we’re fooling only ourselves when we think the right laws by the right people will finally accomplish God’s work.

  • Graham

    Richard, I love you but be careful not to put Europe on too high a pedistal (or the appearance thereof). You start by saying the European model is unsustainable but then appear to argue for it for the next 4 paragraphs. That being said I agree that “the answer” lies somewhere inbetween european style socialism and Ron Paul libertarianism (ha, a VERY wide definition of moderate, I know)…but I think the question for the Christian with regards to government is not should we care for the poor (Christ teaching makes that an obvious priority) but how should we care for the poor; how much should be the responsibility of the government and how much should be taken on privately by faith-based communities…I’m inclined (also) not to leave it in the hands of capitalism and trickle down, etc… not sure where that leaves us…

    • raincitypastor

      I appreciate the word about not putting Europe on too high a pedestal, or at least appearing to do so. In this particular post, though, I’m merely musing on the meaning of Romans 13, pondering what ‘punishing the evil doer’ means, and whether that includes AIG executives and their ilk, and if so, what role the government has to play in that.

      As far as caring for the poor, I thought I was pointing you to Israel, in Exodus, not Europe. We’ll never be settled in this broken world. There is no utopia. But this doesn’t relinquish us of our responsibility to ‘care for the widow, orphan, sojourner in the land’. Who does that, and how, and what’s the church’s role? That’s the conversation.

      • Graham

        Rereading the post I see now the exodus point. I guess I’m confused where Europe fits into the picture but oh well. I see now that wasn’t your point..
        Isn’t what’s described in exodus considered a “theocracy”? I think that sounds great but I’m not sure how to lobby for that form of government and I can’t comprehend what that would look like for the ol US of A. I don’t really have a good rationale or verse behind this but something inside thinks God wants his church to care for the poor more than the government. Now one could argue that caring for the poor in America is beyond the scope of the church, especially if you want to cover health care,etc. Who knows…
        An interesting point is that areas where our government currently attempts to care for the poor( welfare, Medicare/Medicaid, even social security) are relatively new. I think since the 1930s for SS? Who was caring for these things before the goverment stepped in? Noone? Did the church have a bigger role?

  • Lisa

    I appreciate the comments. It’s so human of us to get caught defending one team or another regardless of whether or not we think our team is actually on the right track. I have a renewed commitment to look for the best and most Christ-like ideas, not just the ways that best defend my team or political party or comfortable status quo.

    What seems pretty apparent in the comments is that everyone reads anything through their own lens and will find ways to agree or disagree regardless of whether there’s even an argument to be had. We all have preaching we want to do and will find any chance to get on our soapbox.

    Or at least it seems that way to me. Now… off my soapbox.

  • Lisa

    I appreciate the comments. It’s so human of us to get caught defending one team or another regardless of whether or not we think our team is actually on the right track. I have a renewed commitment to look for the best and most Christ-like ideas, not just the ways that best defend my team or political party or comfortable status quo.

    What seems pretty apparent in the comments is that everyone reads anything through their own lens and will find ways to agree or disagree regardless of whether there’s even an argument to be had. We all have preaching we want to do and will find any chance to get on our soapbox.

    Or at least it seems that way to me. Now… off my soapbox.


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